Commencing on the 10th July 1940 the Battle of Britain would run through to 31st October 1940 & is described as the first battle fought entirely by Air Forces (Royal Air Force & Fleet Air Arm)
After several peace offers were rejected by the British, Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to destroy the Royal Air Force so that they could gain air superiority before launching Operation Sea Lion, an amphibious assault planned by the Wehrmacht onto the British mainland.
In July 1940, the Luftwaffe closed the English Channel to merchant shipping & by August Operation Adlerangriff (Eagle Attack) was launched against the Royal Air Force airfields in the South of England.
By the first week of September, the Luftwaffe had not achieved the results desired. The Germans then turned towards the strategic bombing of cities, an offensive which was aimed at damaging British Industry & Military Operations, as well as denting public morale.
The Bombing attacks began on the 7th September & on the 15th September (what we now know as Battle of Britain Day) the Luftwaffe would carry out a large-scale bombing raid on London believing that the Royal Air Force were close to breaking point.
Approx. 1,500 aircraft took part in the air battles over Britain which lasted until nightfall.
This day would be the defining day in the air war of the Battle of Britain!
The 1st wave of approx. 250 German bombers came over the Channel at about 11am & whilst many Luftwaffe planes were intercepted, around half managed to make it to London where they dropped their bombs. The 2nd wave again of approx. 250 bombers crossed at approx. 2pm.
On this night the RAF managed to break up many of the German bomber formations meaning that bombs were dropped over a much larger area causing less harm than they might had they been dropped in a more concentrated area.
The raids would continue well into the night, with all RAF Squadrons being engaged in the Battle of the 15th September.
There was a claim by The RAF that 185 German planes had been shot down, later reports put this closer to 61, it was however the highest loss suffered by the Luftwaffe in over a month.
The RAF lost the following 31 planes on that day: -
1 Squadron RCAF – Hurricane P3080 – F/O AD Nesbitt (Wounded) - Bailed out over Tunbridge after combat with Me109 at 1210hrs.
1 Squadron RCAF – Hurricane P3876 – F/O R Smither aged 27 (Killed in Action) – Shot down by Me109, Buried Brookwood Cemetery.
1 Squadron RCAF – Hurricane L9173 – F/O A McL Yuile (Wounded) – Damaged in Combat with He111 at 1445hrs, south of London.
19 Squadron – Spitfire X4070 – Sgt JA Potter (POW) – Shot down chasing Me109 to French Coast at 1505 hrs, Wounded. Spent time in Stalag Luft I, III, 6 & 3A.
19 Squadron – Spitfire P9432 – Sgt HAC Roden (Wounded) – Aircraft written off after Crash landing, hit by Me109 at 1510hrs. Sgt Roden would later die in Combat on 16th November 1940.
25 Squadron – Beaufighter – R2067 – P/O HMS Lambert aged 21, F/O MJ Miley aged 22 & LAC JP Wyatt aged 32 (All Killed in Action) – Whilst on Night Patrol crashed near to Biggin Hill at 1820hrs.
41 Squadron – Spitfire P9324 – P/O GA Langley aged 24 (Killed in Action) – Shot down by Me109 near Thurrock at 1230hrs.
73 Squadron – Hurricane P3865 – P/O RA Marchand aged 22 (Killed in Action) – Shot down by Me109 over Maidstone at 1220hrs.
92 Squadron – Spitfire R6606 – P/O RH Holland (Slight Injuries) – Baled out west of Ashford at 1450hrs.
213 Squadron – Hurricane P3113 – Sgt RT Llewellyn (Wounded) – Baled out & was severely wounded after combat with an Me110 over Hawkhurst at 1500hrs.
229 Squadron – Hurricane V6616 – P/O RR Smith (Wounded) – Baled out near Sevenoaks & suffered leg injuries at about 1150hrs
229 Squadron – Hurricane N2537 – P/O GLJ Doutrepont aged 27, Belgian (Killed in Action) - Shot down near Sevenoaks at 1150hrs.
238 Squadron – Hurricane P2836 – Sgt L Pidd aged 22 (Killed in Action) – hit a tree in Kenley during combat & baled out too low.
242 Squadron – Hurricane P2884 – F/L G ff Powell-Sheddon (Injured) – Baled out after combat with Do17, hit by Me109 over Udimore at 1640hrs. Suffered a dislocated shoulder.
249 Squadron – Hurricane V6566 – P/O KT Lofts (Safe) – Crash Landed at West Malling at 1436hrs after combat with a He111.
302 Squadron – Hurricane P2954 – F/L TP Chlopik aged 32 (Killed in Action) – Baled out over West Malling at 1435hrs. Buried at Southend.
303 Squadron – Hurricane P2903 – P/O WE Lokuciewski (Wounded) – Aircraft damaged by Me109 at 1245hrs, airman wounded in leg.
303 Squadron – Hurricane P3939 – Sgt T Andruszhow (Safe) – Baled out after combat with Me109 over Dartford. Sgt Andruszhow would sadly lose his life on 27th September & is buried at Brookwood.
303 Squadron – Hurricane P3577 – Sgt M Brzezowski aged 20 (Killed in Action) – shot down at 1505hrs near Gravesend by an Me109.
310 Squadron – Hurricane R4085 – S/L A Hess (Safe) – at 1445hrs baled out over the Thames.
310 Squadron – Hurricane R4087 – Sgt J Hubacek (Injured) baled out over the Thames at 1445hrs sustained injuries to his foot.
501 Squadron – Hurricane P2760 – P/O AEADGJ van den Hove d’Ertsenrijck aged 32, Belgian (Killed in Action) – Aircraft exploded at 1245hrs during combat. Aircraft fell into the River Stour. Airman is buried at Lymphne.
504 Squadron – Hurricane P2725 – Sgt RT Holmes (Safe) – Baled out at 1215hrs after combat with Do17 over Chelsea.
504 Squadron – Hurricane N2481 – P/O JV Gurteen aged 24 (Killed in Action) – shot down at 1300hrs over South London.
504 Squadron – Hurricane N2705 – F/O M Jebb (Died of Wounds) – Shot down at 1445hrs near Dartford & died the following day.
603 Squadron – Spitfire X4324 – F/O AP Pease aged 22 (Killed in Action) – shot down at 1505hrs by Me109 near Kingswood, Kent.
603 Squadron – Spitfire R7019 – S/L GL Denholm (Safe) – Baled out near Kingswood, Kent at 1505hrs after attack on a Do17.
605 Squadron – Hurricane L2012 – P/O TPM Cooper-Slipper (Safe) – baled out at 1140hrs over Kent having rammed a Do17 of Kampfgeschwader 3 Bomber wing.
605 Squadron – Hurricane L2122 – P/O RE Jones (Injured) – Baled out over Kent at 1140hrs during combat.
607 Squadron – Hurricane V6688 – P/O PJT Stephenson (Wounded) – Slightly wounded he bailed out over Appledore after attacking a Do17 of Kampfgeschwader 3 Bomber wing.
609 Squadron – Hurricane R6690 – P/O GN Grant aged 24 (Killed in Action) – shot down at 1230hrs near to Kenley, he is buried in Huddersfield.
Although the fighting continued in the air for several more weeks, British cities were bombed intermittently during the rest of the war.
Sunday 15th September marked a clear & decisive defeat for the Luftwaffe & is the reason why the 15th September, is known as Battle of Britain Day. The Canadians Commemorate this day on the 3rd Sunday of September.
The 15th September is a day to remember those who fought & in some cases died to Protect our Country.
Why not check out the RAF Benevolent Fund Podcast on the Battle of Britain which tells some of the inside stories from the Battle of Britain.
Or check out the Battle of Britain Monument in London, their website provides a wealth of resources & also lists out all the Airmen who took part the battle.
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